Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crime of the Century (Tears of a Clown Division)

   Give Tampa, Fla., (pop. roughly 303,000) a pass if you like to relax by dressing as a clown while, say, running errands on your day off. It is illegal for an adult over sixteen there to wear a mask or any kind of disguise - even on Halloween.    
   So learned Matthew David Lopez, eighteen, of 7003 Ponderosa Drive, who was jailed Tuesday and charged with wearing a clown mask on a public road, according to a Feb. 24 report in the St. Petersburg Times
   Deputies noticed Lopez and two other people walking on a city street. Quoting an arrest affidavit, the Times reported that "[w]hat caught a deputy's attention was Lopez's masked face with a bright red-and-orange wig." 
   That's not an easy sentence to parse. But if one understands it correctly, Lopez had accessorized a clown mask with an extremely festive wig. This shows great taste. It'd be preferable if deputies arrested people who accessorized their clown masks with, for example, feces wigs, making them Shithead Clowns and therefore candidates for life imprisonment, or politics. 
   Deputies followed Lopez and his cohorts in an unmarked vehicle. When a marked police cruiser presently arrived, Lopez et al. ran away. Neither police nor the Times indicated if Lopez was wearing bright red oversized clown shoes, the kind that make a SLAP!-SLAP!-SLAP! sound. They  would have made escape tricky. 
   It also would have been embarrassing for police, who lost Lopez and Co. To the relief of clown haters the world over, authorities eventually did find the trio, and Lopez was tossed - wig-less and mask-less, one assumes - in the can. 
   One wishes for more creative policing. In a perfect world, when deputies spotted Lopez the Clown they would have swiftly donned fake mustaches and Bobby hats and chased Lopez round and round and round in a circle, tripping over themselves and inadvertently bashing each other in the face with their truncheons. 
   For his part, Lopez appears sanguine. In the picture accompanying the Times article, reproduced here, Lopez has an air of comfortable whimsy about him. (It's in the eyes.) This is good news. Often, clowns are laughing on the outside but crying within. 
Matthew David Lopez was arrested after deputies say they saw him walking down the road wearing a clown mask.
   Incidentally, a 2006 study by the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law noted that 6.1 percent of Tampa residents identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual - one of the highest per capita rates in the U.S. But Tampa gay men of a certain age need not fret: a face made shiny by Botox and filler injections does not, under Tampa law, count as a mask or disguise. 
   However, if such a man accessorizes such a face with a bright red-and-orange wig, he should be arrested for: a.) impersonating Carrot Top and/or b.) being a Fuckhead Clown. 

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